Falling water levels on the Rhine may disrupt barge shipping again | DHL Resilience360
Last year’s critically low water levels on the Rhine river had significant impact on business operations in industries from chemicals to cement and steelmaking. As shipping traffic was halted for several weeks on one of Europe’s most important waterways that connects north-western ports with inland locations in Germany, France and Switzerland, companies relying on low-cost barge shipping faced increased transportation costs and a shortage of raw materials.
From July to November 2018, steelmakers and chemical manufacturers such as ArcelorMittal and Solvay declared force majeure at their plants along the river, some of which lasted for over three months. The low water on the Rhine reportedly cost steel producer ThyssenKrupp more than EUR 100 million (USD 111.2 million), in part because it had to reduce deliveries of car parts to auto maker Volkswagen AG.
As of this writing on July 29, water levels on the Rhine remained higher compared to the same period last year, although levels at the critical gauge of Kaub, one of the narrowest parts of the Rhine, have been rapidly decreasing over the past week. As a result, shipping companies such as CMA CGM and Maersk Line began announcing low water surcharges on barge shipments from July 24.